You know, being in a Christ-centered marriage does make life easier, but it doesn't make it any easier to live with your spouse. Living with the man God didn't want in your life is difficult. I know that from experience. Living with the man God has for you doesn't mean you don't go through times where you want to send him packing.
I've blogged about the stress of my life recently. Going from a family of four to eight overnight has been an adjustment to say the least. Basically, I log 51 hours a week of time taking care of my kids. And that's only the time they're awake and doesn't include Hannah waking up in the middle of the night. It involves cleaning house, making sure homework is done, dinner is on the table, baths are taken, and getting everyone up in the morning and ready for school and getting them to bed at night. Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get some time to work on my college homework. Most of the time that requires me staying up late for an hour each night, which is another 5 hours of my time. And really, I need more time than that. Top that off with 35-40 hours of a full time job. Then there's the time involved with church meetings/activities, which goes around 4 hours per week. Total, I think I can say that I work two jobs, but I don't get paid for it (well, except for the 'fringe' benefits.)
My husband works 6-2 Tuesday-Saturday and then three days on the weekends from 3-11. 40 hours at the first and 24 at the second, for a total of 64 hours per week. He has 3 full hours to relax before me and the kids get home.
I'm frustrated, because seriously, I need 'me' time too. I was under the impression that marriage is a give in take relationship. But apparantly, it's not. If I don't keep things going, it doesn't get done. Granted, there are times when Ryan does help and trust me, I am so grateful for those times. He's not all bad in that department.
I talked to our pastor's wife last night and she hit on something I hadn't thought of...all my life, I've had to be the pillar of my family, to hold and support and keep things together. Ask the 12 year old whose mom worked all day and who had to help clean and cook meals for my siblings. I don't want to be the pillar right now, you know? I want to hand things off to my husband and take a much-needed break. I'm seriously thinking that for Mother's Day next year, I might just snag a close friend of mine and we're going for a girl's weekend out with no kids. I have to be the superglue right now, but what I feel like is the cheap Elmer's glue that my kids use at school.
So we're going to try something at the suggestion of our pastor's wife. She said to buy a schedule book and schedule the family time. Schedule in time for me to study. Schedule in time for Ryan to spend time at the library to work on his sermons. I pray with all of my heart this works well for us because something really has to change so I don't feel like I have to carry all the load. I'm only one person, you know? I don't like feeling like I'm a single mom to six.
No matter how long you date them before you marry them, you can never know what you're going to face in the marriage. It's like the enemy goes from trying to stop the marriage from happening to destroying the marriage. I know too that one day we'll look back on this and laugh...but right now, I am focused on getting through this, and some other things in our marriage that I won't mention here, but things that have to be worked through nonetheless. And perhaps, as a friend of mine said, maybe the reason we're going through some of this is because God needs us to change the way we would react to situations that happened from our first marriages.
The scene: my house, 8:00 p.m. at night. After a long day.
Tell a four year old to get her PJ's on after she hasn't had a nap and doesn't know where she left them. Go on, try it! I'll wait.
Did it work?
My guess would be it went something like this...I told my four year old daughter to get her PJ's on. She, of course, looked for about two seconds and then came into my room, whining that sheeeee cooouldn't fiiiiiiiiiiind them. So, as any other great mom would do in the training of her child in life lessons, I told her that it was her job to remember where her PJ's were left and that she had to find them since she didn't put them away as told.
What ensued, you ask?
A thirty minute temper tantrum. It was quite amusing, actually. Rachel has this habit, you see, of barely glancing around and not really looking for items. I told Abigail not to help her look and I completely ignored her temper tantrum. She'd walk from her room, peek in my room to see if I was watching her, walk out into the hallway and into the living room, and back to her room where I could hear her jumping up and down and whining even louder. Then the circle would start all over again. About 27 minutes into this cycle, Abigail came and asked if she could have a popsicle. 30 seconds later, Rachel veered from her path of whining to see what Abigail had. I made my play.
"Rach, you aren't getting a popsicle until you find your PJ's and get them on."
One minute later, she'd found them and was happily sitting at the table eating her treasured purple popsicle. Go figure.
What a storm we're in. We're still hammering out the details on this whole family schedule thing, but we need to carve out time to seriously discuss everything without interruption. Ever feel like you're hopping from foot to foot, trying to keep everything in balance? Yep, that's me. Not that I'm complaining. I sense there's a peace on the other side of all of this.
My husband works two jobs, one that is 40 hours per week and one that is 24 hours per week. He constantly studies for sermons and ministry, so basically, it's like going to school and ministry.
Me, I work 35 hours per week and go to school 10 hours per week. The rest of my time is consumed by being a mom and wife. I'm also preparing for ministry, but moreso in the effect as the wife of a pastor. This is my calling and my God-given destiny. I know there will be times where I'll be teaching alongside him as well, and there are unforseen women that I'll minister to on a one-on-one basis also.
Add in a new marriage and six kids and at the moment, we've got complete and total chaos. No ease into this time. I mean, when you get married, you have time to spend together before the kids and bills pile up. Not so when a second marriage comes into play. So, pray for us as we begin to pursue the balance and get rid of the chaos and clutter. It's simply time to do so.
God wouldn't have given us all this blessing if He didn't know we were fully capable of handling all of this-with His help, of course.
Monday, the school called about Rachel because the daycare didn't pick her up from school. Tuesday, Hunter's teacher called me because he wasn't enrolled in the pride program (a free after school program) and the daycare didn't pick him up. As it turns out, they misplaced his form so he got in the program, thankfully. Today, I get a call from Hunter's teacher. I thought at first they were calling about Abigail. I finally interrupted the teacher after I realized she was calling about one of Hunter's classmates. Thankfully, this kid wasn't mine. But now I KNOW I've got a lot of kids. That just proved it.
Another caveat of having a lot of kids? Try taking six kids to Wal-Mart and then loosing three of them. We'd just left the shampoo isle and were heading to the electronics department when we heard Caleb scream. Ryan took off running. Amazing that Caleb was near the front of the store and we were almost at the back, and yet that kid can scream loud enough that we could hear him. That's when I discovered we didn't have Rachel either. Ryan found her near Caleb. She was in her usual own world. Then we went and sat down in the furniture section so I could feed Hannah. Hunter found a stuffed, rather realistic looking spider and began tantalizing Abigail with it. She FREAKED out because she is absolutely terrified of anything that isn't human. Even rolly polies. So we calmed her down. By the time we started shopping for clothes for Chase, Ryan and I were worn out, kicking ourselves because we took six kids to the store in the first place. We headed to the checkout counter and then I heard my name over the intercom to come get Chase. By the time I found him, he was completely panicked. I reassured him that we would have eventually found him, and that he did the right thing by having me paged. Anyone want some kids? I have some for sale....
Hannah has recently become more alert and has begun to interact with us. Something about 4:00 a.m. makes her wake up and want to chat. Right when I'd love to be sleeping. So it went this morning. I could hear her chatting away with her stuffed bunny. About 5:30 I gave in after she got fussy and brought her to bed with us so she could eat. Really, though, I couldn't stay mad at her...especially not after she gave me a huge smile and laughed when she did it. I love this age.
Abigail made us laugh heartily the other day. She listens in on conversations, and some days doesn't quite hear what is being said correctly. Case in point: Friday we picked all the kids up from daycare, and Chase said, "Ewwwww.....girl cooties!" To which Abigail replied: "Chase, boys don't wear girl panties!" Ryan and I couldn't stifle the laughter on that one.
And on days when I actually feel like loving my husband and don't feel like smacking him upside the head, life is good. We had planned to go on our weekly date yesterday but the funeral we went to ran a bit long. I was so proud of him...he did quite well taking part in his first funeral as a part of his training to become a pastor. I, however, ended up serving food to the family, which I wasn't planning on, and oy vey! my feet HURT by the end of it. If I had my way, I'd never wear shoes. Or pantyhose. Some deranged man must have invented pantyhose just to irritate women. Like we don't have enough to deal with already, being that we have to deal with PMS, Aunt Flo, having kids, taking care of kids...yada yada yada. I'm sure all you women out there know what I'm talking about.
You know, in the old days, the women that just couldn't afford to replace their panty hose got a line tatooed up the back of their leg so it looked like they were wearing them!! Just food for thought!! Hahaha!
Thursday evening Hannah began to get very cranky. About 3:30 in the morning Friday, I noticed she wasn't eating much and was crying and felt very warm. 102 degree fever in a 9 week old. Yeah. So, we went to the ER. Let's just say I wasn't too thrilled with my local ER. Babies under 12 weeks of age, especially in a preemie, have immature immune systems, so they do a full sepsis workup to see if anything is causing the fever. I had to watch the ER nurse stick Hannah 3 different times for an IV. I asked her to stop and find someone else, and she YELLED that she does this all the time. I wasn't too convinced. Then I had to watch them try to cath Hannah for a urinalysis and of course she peed all over the nurse and they got nothing but a few drops from the cath. The ER doc is telling me they must do a spinal tap to check for meningitis. I told him I'd agree to a blood test and urinalysis but I was drawing the line with the spinal tap as I felt it was unnecessary. This is the point where he totally pissed me off. First, he tells me it's likely a virus that is causing her fever, and then he goes off on some spill about all the problems meningitis can cause. Idiot. I held my ground and wouldn't allow them to do it because I knew it was overkill. By the end of all of us, the doc tells us she has a UTI. Which is rare for a baby, so they decided to transfer us so a pediatric urologist could make sure she didn't have any kidney or bladder damage or deformities.
Thankfully, they ended up transferring us to Children's Hospital. By the time I visited with the docs there, they weren't convinced she had a UTI because it wasn't a full cath-it was 3 drops of cath urine and the rest was caught in the tube. They were pretty sure that it was contaminated. She was started on broad spectrum antibiotics and basically slept the entire day Friday. Her fever never rose again over 100.3, thankfully. Friday night I noticed she was bleeding from her IV and so a couple of nurses came in cursing the former ER nurse who'd given her the IV in an arterial vein. One of the nurses obviously had Mosiac Down Syndrome, which made me think of Lisa and Finn, thinking that this woman has DS and she's a nurse . This nurse was the only nurse that could calm Hannah down and Hannah smiled at her.
By Saturday morning they were telling us we'd go home Sunday because they have to wait a full 48 hours to make sure none of the cultures grow anything. Sunday morning, I felt a huge sense of vindication. The doc came in and told me I made the right call to not allow her to get the spinal tap and that I was doing a wonderful job with Hannah. Thankfully, Hannah fell into the 80% category where nothing is wrong and it's likely a virus. The docs and nurses really loved to come in and talk to her. Hannah did her cross-eyed thing at the doc, and the doc did say to keep an eye on that b/c it appeared she might have some muscle weakness in one of her eyes, so I'll talk to the pedi about it Thursday when we go in for a follow up appointment.
We're also in a financial situation where we're having to take a leap of faith and trust God. Ryan's let go of his second job, which actually brings a sense of relief. However, this means we have a deficit every month. We're going to have to trust God on this. Even with all the time I've seen God pull through for me, I still stayed up worrying over this last night and woke up with a huge headache. My flesh is still reacting I guess. I found a website that allows me to listen to the Bible while I work so I'm doing that, flooding my spirit with the Word and meditating on that instead of the situation. But, today does begin us praying about God helping us pay off my SUV asap, either by paying it off quickly or cancelling the debt. That would get us back in the black. None of this will matter anyway once we're in heaven...no more bills to pay and nothing to worry about. I have got to stop worrying.
Today, I'm just in awe. Not that I haven't seen God do something like this before, but I'm so grateful that He has that I'm almost speechless.
If you're a reader of my blog, you know I've been blogging about the serious stress I've been under trying to juggle school, family, work, and ministry. Last Thursday as I was driving to work, I was praying. Asking God what He got me into when he brought Ryan and I together. Telling God that I would bother Him endlessly until He told me what I needed to do to keep all of this going. Frustrated beyond belief because I can't seem to find the time to really spend in the Word and in prayer or relationship with God.
Unexpectedly, I got my answer yesterday.
Ryan and I met with the pastor for a maintenance counseling session yesterday. Partly to discuss the relationship between Chase and Ryan-it's very tense. However, Ryan's going to individual counseling and Chase is going to individual counseling. And Chase treats both of his stepparents equally horrible. So that did take some of the correction off of Ryan from the pastor and helped him gain more understanding into the situation now that he knows Chase has a horrible attitude with both stepparents. So I am praying that things ease there. We're all adjusting-Ryan's never raised boys and I've never raised girls. Girls, I'm finding, are way more dramatic-one little thing can start a crying fit of endless proportions. My boys might scream and yell, but if they cry about anything, it's over quickly.
The pastor asked Ryan what he does all day, and what happens when he comes home. And then he asked me how I feel about it. I told him I was frustrated because I wake up, and I've got kids to get ready to go in the morning because Ryan is already at work. Ryan gets off work and comes home and has the house to himself for two hours. Me, I get off work and I have to pick up kids and come home to start dinner and deal with homework and getting kids to bed and then around nine I get to start on my homework. On Mondays, one of his days off, he has no children to deal with because they are at school and daycare. On Saturday, one of my days off, he's at work so I have 3-6 children by myself. Basically, I have no down time, no me time. Ryan has a lot of down time. The pastor told Ryan that I am running on fumes, and that if something isn't done now, I'm going to break. He knows it's only because of God that I've made it this far. He knew that I dreaded coming home at night not because I don't love my family, but because the sheer weight of the responsibility is killing me. He knew that I am frustrated b/c I can't find time to really spend in the Word or in prayer, which allows me to develop an intimate relationship with Christ.
He told Ryan that he was going to have to help me more to help relieve some of the burden. He suggested that Ryan and I sit down and talk about how to delegate things to take some of the burden off of me. Ryan did tell the pastor that the kids all flock to me for everything, and he didn't know why. He was told that it's because he appears unaccessible. We did tell the pastor we have three options:
1. Ryan gets a job that pays what we both make right now so I can be a SAHM, which means I will have the time to be a Proverbs 31 woman and be able to attend to my highest calling as a mom. I will also be able to focus on school. Me wanting to be a SAHM would have been unthinkable even a few weeks ago. I love to work. But it seems that God is putting this desire on my heart more and more.
2. At the end of this school year, I take a break from college or take very few hours for a while.
3. We buy a bigger house (which the pastor is praying that we're able to do soon) and have my mom move in with us as a live in nanny.
I think that I'd love to combine options one and three.
I know it's God, but this is why I'm speechless. I left his office yesterday trying to hold back the tears. I'm still trying to hold them back today. The pastor also told me that I'm not allowed right now to do anything at church. Continuing to play the violin is up to me, but he suspects that I enjoy doing so-which I do because it's an emotional outlet for me. He isn't trying to push me aside, but he knows that, like his own wife, I'm driven to serve and right now I don't need anything else on my plate. A few months ago I might have taken this action as an insult because I was going to be left behind in ministry. Right now, I'm so grateful that words can't even describe it.
He answered, plain and simple. So pray for me, and for my husband, and for our family. It's a definite time of much needed rebuilding for me, because I have come very close to cracking lately.